SAN FRANCISCO (May 8, 2008) – The Dui Hua Foundation has appealed to the Chinese government to grant an “Olympic pardon” in conjunction with the upcoming Summer Olympics in Beijing. The pardon would apply to long-serving prisoners who no longer pose a threat to society and are nearing the end of their sentences.
The appeal for the special pardon was expressed in an April 24, 2008, letter from Dui Hua Executive Director John Kamm to Wu Bangguo (吴邦国), Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s highest legislative body. Kamm pointed out that no Olympic host has ever declared a pardon for long-serving prisoners: “China has an historic opportunity to be the first Olympics host to do so, thereby leaving an important humanitarian legacy for future hosts.”
Article 67 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China grants the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress the power to grant special pardons for prisoners. The power has been exercised in the past when the Committee issued pardons to imprisoned officers of the Nationalist Party (KMT) and other prisoners. These pardons were issued on seven separate occasions between 1959 and 1975.
In his letter to Chairman Wu, Kamm writes that “a fundamental principle of the Olympics has been the Olympic Truce,” which has historically promoted peace, solidarity, and humanitarianism during the games. On October 31, 2007, the resolution submitted by China to endorse the Olympic Truce was adopted at the United Nations General Assembly. Since 1993, when Olympic Truce resolutions became standard in the UN, China has supported the principle as a resolution co-sponsor, and an Olympic pardon for long-serving prisoners is a natural expression of the Olympic Truce ideal.
Kamm closed the letter by saying that the Standing Committee is “best qualified to determine the scope of the Olympic pardon,” and that, in the spirit of wishing for the success of the Beijing Olympics, Dui Hua “hope[s] that the scope will be broad, reflecting the deep humanitarianism of the Chinese people and the ideals of the International Olympics movement.”
“An Olympic pardon would not target any one group of prisoners,” says Kamm in reference to Dui Hua’s letter. “But a pardon for those who have served the great bulk of their sentences would result in the release of the remaining prisoners from June 1989—symbolically putting that tragedy behind the Chinese people—as well as those still serving sentences for counterrevolution, a crime removed from China’s criminal law in 1997.”
The Dui Hua Foundation
San Francisco, California
May 8, 2008